Dickinson State University is expanding its athletics program to help boost enrollment.
The school hopes the move will create a new stream of revenue to combat the projected $4.2 million budget deficit next Fall if its enrollment stays the same.
However, creating more team sports will also create more opportunities for DSU students.
School officials announced last week that it will be adding junior varsity teams for volleyball and men and women’s basketball for the 2019-2020 academic year, and varsity baseball will be returning for the 2020 -2021 academic year.
Baseball was cut from the athletic program in 2017, due to budget concerns.
“Oh, I was excited. I wanted baseball to come back, and it is exciting they are offering JV programs,” said Seth Moerkerke, DSU football player.
During an open forum last week, the school said adding additional sports could potentially bring in about 70 new students by the 2020-2021 academic year and about $700,000 in new revenue.
Pete Stanton, Interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, said the cost to the school to start up the programs will be minimal.
“Give some additional support to the programs for additional scholarship funds is pretty minimal. Some support for part-time coaches, again, is pretty minimal”.
Some of the students KX News talked to at DSU see the move as a win-win for student-athletes, because the university will be able to offer more scholarships.
“For me coming in to college it(scholarship) was really important. . .just because it allowed me to keep playing the sport I love but also focus on school,” said Kylie Hadley, DSU volleyball player.
Another plus is incoming freshmen will get even more playing time on the JV teams and can develop their skills, instead of warming the bench on the varsity team.
“Just adding basketball and volleyball is going to help some of the lower level athletes develop over the two years and play varsity later on,” said Moerkerke.
Stanton said the school’s main recruiting area for athletes is North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, and he expects to see more of them on campus in the Fall.
Dickinson State University currently has a little less than 1,400 students.
Esports in the Fall
Dickinson State University is also starting up an Esports varsity team next Fall.
Joshua Nichols, Esports Coordinator at DSU, expects to have somewhere between 15 and 20 students on the team to start the season.
They are expecting to compete competitively in games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, Rainbow 6, and Rocket league.
Aside from the varsity team, DSU will also have eleven gaming stations in the student center dedicated to Esports.
According to NACE, The National Association of Collegiate E-sports, more than 100 colleges have Esports varsity programs, and it is becoming a great recruitment and retainment tool for colleges.
“Esports in may have more viewers than traditional sports that are out there. The stats that are thrown out there are that in 2017 the NBA finals had 17.7 million viewers and the League of Legends(tournament) had 40 million viewers,” said Nichols.
Dickinson State University and the University of Jamestown are the only two colleges, sanctioned by NACE, a division of the NAIA.
Nichols hopes in the future to recruit and offer scholarships to students interested in being part of the university’s Esports program.